Protecting Tosso Forest

A pilot project to assess and protect Tosso Forest, part of the Donga and the Kastina Ala river basins

Subject: Forest conservation
Location: Nigeria

Size of the forest: forested areas vary in size from small fragments of less than one hectare to impressive stands of over 46 km2

Conservation status: part of the Donga River Basin Forests, classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) in danger

Notable wildlife: little up-to-date knowledge exists, but surveys have identified birds such as the Grey-headed Broadbill Smithornis sharpei, Johanna’s Sunbird Nectarinia johannae, Cameroon Indigobird Vidua camerunensis and the crossensis race of Green-throated Sunbird Nectarinia rubescens. Further research in this isolated lowland area may lead to the discovery of new species.

Threats to the forest

Along the border of Nigeria and Cameroon, between the Obudu Plateau to the southwest and the Mabilla Plateau to the northeast, lies an area of poorly-known lowland forest, apparently cut off from other lowland forest blocks by these two highland massifs, and the Bamenda highlands in Cameroon to the south.

Forest vegetation is continuously being whittled away or actively logged. Threats to the forest regions include habitat destruction as new roads fragment the habitat, unsustainable harvesting for the extraction of Rosewood and other timber, and by hunting.

The remaining forests and forest fragments are extremely important in both a global and local context, supporting many vulnerable wildlife populations.

Logging for timber extraction is a serious threat to Tosso Forest.

How is A Rocha helping?

Eden Creation Care Initiative, and its founder Mark Hopkins, have been at the heart of bird conservation in Nigeria for over three decades. Their bird surveys enabled the designation of the Donga River Basin Forests Important Bird Area (IBA), now classified as an IBA in danger due to the pressures it is facing. Tosso Forest, located along the neighbouring Kastina Ala river basin, is one of the less well-known lowland forests in this area.

In 2017, the forest was visited by two members of Eden Creation Care Initiative (Eden) for a preliminary survey. In 2019, another survey was carried out to further understand the important bird species of the region, as well as build contact with local community leaders. Because of its isolation – little up-to-date knowledge exists on the wildlife or pressures faced in the forests of these river basins. And too few conservation efforts are in place to alleviate these pressures.

Eden Creation Care Initiative hopes to develop a long-term project to help assess and protect this forest, working with local communities and other stakeholders. A first step will be to undertake a ‘pressure-state-response’ study for the region, which will give us an up-to-date understanding of the pressures on the forest, what state it is in and the sustainable responses that can be developed for its future protection.